Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tea & Read: With Every Letter

Sarah Sundin
Title: With Every Letter
Author: Sarah Sundin
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction
Rating: Two Cups of Tea

With Every Letter is Book 1 in Sarah Sundin's Wings of Nightingale series. If this book is any indication of how the rest of the series is going to be, I'm so in!

Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse serving in the 802nd Medical Squadron, Air Evacuation, Transport. As part of a morale building program, she reluctantly enters into an anonymous correspondence with Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer in the 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face to face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage to their past? And can they learn to trust God and embrace the gift of love he offers them?

I admit that my first impressions of this novel weren't enthusiastic. I thought it started off a little slow. Also, I thought the some of the characters internal issues were a little bit far fetched and trivial. I kept reading however, because I knew Sundin wouldn't disappoint and she didn't. 

Despite my initial feelings, they changed 1/3 way into the book. The pacing picked up nicely. Also, the character arcs, although they started in a place I didn't enjoy, moved at a believable rate. That's one of the things I love about Sundin's books: her character transformations are very realistic. Instead of the character's having one big Aha! moment, they change gradually and each scene builds another support of that change. I think this technique allows me as the reader to see how the characters actually live out the change they go through. I also love that the epiphany isn't within the last 20 pages of the book. It comes earlier. I really enjoy that.

As for historical detail, Sundin is fantastic. She has a gift for transporting me from the present and putting me right in time with the characters. No glaring historical problems in her books. I also loved that the movie, The Shop Around the Corner, is a part of the book (You've God Mail is the modern day adaption and I LOVE that movie). 

I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Repost: Legacy

What does it mean to have a legacy? Whenever people think of having a legacy, they think trust funds and houses. For those of us who don’t have much, trying to determine our legacy can be concerning. We wonder what it is that we will leave behind for our loved ones, other than bills.

Tonight, I took my children to the library. We go often because my youngest child has to read a book a night for his homework. I love taking them to the library and helping them pick out books. It’s fun to watch them select books and see how those books fit their personalities. I often talk with them and ask them why a certain book piqued their interest. It’s major mommy time.

I noticed was that they act and think much like I did at their age. They select books much the way I did. My middle son is the most like me, a ferocious reader. He reads fast and likes to read lots of different subjects. I don’t have to pull teeth to get them to select books. As a matter of fact, I have to limit the number they can check out. They see the library the way I do, a place filled with knowledge and wonder.

By the time we left, it was already after dark. As I drove, I noticed books started popping up in my rear view mirror. My sons were trying to read from streetlights and the headlights of the cars behind us. That’s exactly what I used to do. I would stay up at night and sit in my bedroom window to read by the streetlight behind my house. My daughter wasn't reading at all because, like me, she gets car sick easily. But she jumped in her first book as soon as we arrived home.

As I watched them, I realized I have something to leave as a legacy: a love of books. I know once book love is instilled in a child, it never goes away. Each time I take them to the library, I’m leaving a legacy. Every time I discuss a book with them, I add another brick to my legacy. I would love to leave them money, but I think teaching them to love books is one of the most valuable legacy I can leave them.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Life in Stitches: One Yarn Purchase For the Year

So I have made my one yarn purchase for the year! Yay.  I'll do a big reveal once it arrives, but I must say I'm quite in love. I'm already "dreaming" of what I can do with it. Here's some hints:

  • It's fingering weight (no surprise)
  • It's a brand I've been wanting to add to my stash
  • It's a color I don't normally buy
  • Depending on what I make, I can do some or all of these scarf styles in this video

BTW, this video is a huge help for those of us who love fingering/sock weight yarn and who have too many scarves (and not enough socks).

I must say, if a girl is only going to make one yarn purchase a year, this one was worth it! Check out my blog next Friday as my new friend should have arrived by then.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Indie Life: Meaningful

I have good news and bad news. Being the optimist I am, I’ll start with the good news.

This month, I got two four star reviews of my novel on Christian Manifesto. I also got good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. The biggest piece of good news of all? My novel is a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Yes, I screamed when I found out.

The bad news…I haven’t sold one copy of my book this month. Not a single one.

So there is my stark honesty. My sales haven’t been great before this month, but I must admit, I haven’t been promoting my novel as I should. My marketing has been sidetracked by a series of bad migraines. I’ve had to stay away from my computer quite a bit. This month, however, the few sales I was getting dried up.

Now you may be thinking, good reviews and promising contest results should mean something. I was thinking the same thing. I thought they would mean more sales, but they don’t. That’s one of the challenges of indie life. You find yourself wondering what it all means. How do you interpret the ups and downs?

I think the best way to deal with all this is to remember that this is a journey and in every journey there is good and bad. The bad does cancel out the good. Nor does the good cancel out the bad. They co-exist in indie life and every other part of life.

It’s also helpful to remember that bad occurrences don’t make the journey bad and good occurrences don’t make the journey perfect. A balanced perspective is the key. This journey will have good and bad in it. We want it that way. When good and bad co-exist, we can use a better word for our indie publishing journey: meaningful.

Despite my lack of sales, my journey is meaningful. I had courage to believe in my writing. That’s meaningful. I’ve dealt with the myth that sales and good reviews validate my writing career. That’s meaningful. I’ve celebrated that my writing connects with my fans. All meaningful.

Regardless what my sales end up being, I’ve had a meaningful month. 

Tweet Me: When good and bad co-exist, we can use a better word for our indie publishing journey: meaningful. Click here

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Life in Stitches: Yarn Fast

I've added a few more lovelies but here is my stash.

(Cue dramatic music) I am on a yarn fast.

I knew this day was slowly creeping up on me, the day when I felt like I have too much yarn. I know all my yarn friends are screaming, “You can never have too much yarn.” I know that’s the saying, but I’m afraid I can have too much yarn. I’ve decided to try not to buy any yarn this year outside of using a gift card a friend gave me. It’s March and so far so good.

Two occurrences brought about this decision. The first happened around fall of last year. I lost a skein of yarn. This was the first time that ever happened (and prayerfully, the last), but it was disconcerting none the least. I was sure that I had put it back in my stash. I tore up my stash multiple times but still couldn’t find it.

I did, however, find something else in my stash: lots of really great yarn. I have great colors and good quality yarn in my stash. My husband would call that being yarn snob (so be it). It’s like I own my own little mini-yarn store with skeins tailored just for me. Why buy more yarn, when so much beautiful yarn is before me?

Second, I found myself often being overwhelmed by my stash, which isn’t that big. I would wonder about how long would it take me to knit it all up. See, I’m a big fan of the queue feature on Raverly. At the beginning of last year, I went through and “queued up” most of my yarn. I realized at the beginning of this year, that I’d made very little progress on the queue, but I had added quite a bit of yarn in my stash. For some reason, that annoyed me.

Under the power of those two events, my mind is made up. I’ve even shared my plan to my anti-stash husband, who will do all in his power to keep me from buying…I mean help me keep my conviction.

What are your feelings about your stash? Do you feel overwhelmed? What’s your sign that it’s time to stop buying yarn?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Double Fail!

Confession is good for the soul…but sometimes it backfires.

In my Friday post (read here), I confessed to the world that it was my fault that the East Coast got no snow this winter. It was all the fault of my prophetic sweater that I didn’t finish. I considered finishing it, but as I said on Friday, who wants snow in spring? For me, the only thing worse than no snow is snow out of season.

Well, guess what?  The thing I dreaded is upon me: a spring snowstorm. Yes, the Snowquester is coming. By the way, I think the lack of snow has given the weather forecasters too much free time if they’re naming snowstorms. Named or not, the Snowquester is coming. I am so upset. I suspected this would happen. I knew it would snow as soon as I got my mind set on spring.

But I love snow. I should be happy, right? 

No. Nobody, not even the most ardent snow lovers want snow in March (except for teachers and their students. But I think they would love most reasons for school closure). Oh, why didn’t I keep my mouth shut about the sweater?

Spring snowstorms are horrible. First, they never stick around long, which appears to be our case. Hard to enjoy a snowy landscape when it’s going to be in the low fifties two days after. Second, it messes with the flowers already blooming in my yard. Third, the forecasters are predicting heavy wet snow and high winds which equal power outages. And fourth, it’s just wrong. Snow is for winter.

I don’t know how I’ll bear the shame of a double fail. Sorry again. 

Tweet me: By the way, I think the lack of snow has given the weather forecasters too much free time if they’re naming snowstorms.  Click here.

Friday, March 1, 2013

My Life in Stitches: No Snow

I am always cold. I guess that’s a good problem to have when you’re a knitter. You always have a great excuse to knit something cozy. No matter where I go, I need a sweater or a jacket. So I decided to solve my problem with a craft I love. Last year, I decided that I would make a couple of cardigans in neutral colors to have when I get chilly. My idea was to knit one to keep in the car if I get cold while I’m out.

The No Snow Sweater
I put my plan into action. I went through my stash and decided on the pattern Solaris. It seemed pretty simple. It’s just a reverse garter stitch and the front is knit in one long piece like a scarf. Seaming seemed simple. Piece the front and back together and then set in the selves.

I went to work on this sweater on November 1st of last year (according to my Raverly project page). And I said something that I didn’t realize I’d come to regret. I prayed that the snow would hold off until I got it finished.

Well, the knitting went slow. Really slow. Then I ran out of yarn. Thankfully, I found someone on Raverly with that yarn and dye lot in their stash and willing to sell it, which meant another delay. But I wasn’t worried because it hadn't snowed yet. I just needed it to hold off until I finished the sweater.

Well, it went from bad to worse. I got the sweater finished and immediately set my heart on snow. All I had to do was seam it and the flakes could start flying. But…the arms were too small for the sleeve holes. I was so frustrated that the sweater promptly went into hibernation. Little did I know the trouble I was causing.

The sweater was prophetic.

We got no snow… much less cold weather this winter and it’s all my fault! If I had finished my sweater sooner, we could have been frolicking in the flakes like New England. But no. We have rain and 50 degree days. And I’m too afraid to finish it now because it’s almost spring and I DON’T want snow now.

I’m sorry to all the snow lovers in the Northeast. I failed you.